Eileen Gray’s E-1027 launches crowdfunding campaign for restoration of original interiors

Eileen Gray’s E-1027 launches crowdfunding campaign for restoration of original interiors

A crowd-funding campaign has been launched to raise money for important restorations to Eileen Gray’s modernist villa E-1027 in the south of France. The house, which reopened in 2015 after crucial structural restoration saved it from falling into complete disrepair, now aims to restore the unique fixed and free-standing furnishings in the dining alcove, using Gray’s original materials and methods and to create disabled access to the villa.

There is much to celebrate about Gray, a contemporary of Le Corbusier, Gray was a tour de force of her time – unbounded in her creative output and a powerful, entrepreneurial female in an era dominated by men.

In 1926, architect Jean Badovici commissioned Gray to design his summer retreat in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the coast overlooking the Mediterranean sea. They had met in Paris, and Badovici encouraged Gray to express her creative vision through the design of the house, now an icon of modernist architecture.

Eileen Gray house garden landscaping

The restored and landscaped garden at E-1027. Photography: Manuel Bougot

Badovici was known for his passion for entertaining so Gray designed a unique dining alcove that combined all his cocktail-making needs into one clever piece. The foldable table transformed the corridor into a bar, while a bespoke container for slices of lemon was placed in convenient reach. No original furnishings exist in the dining room and bar, except Le Corbusier’s colourful mural, which is why the restoration is so important. Photographs, Gray’s drawings and surviving elements of her decoration and furniture that can be found in museums and private collections will provide the source material for the restoration.

A visit to E-1027 today consists of a guided tour around the villa within a group of 12 where a spoken history of the villa is complemented by archive photographs that show how the original interior looked. The planned restoration will help bring the interior back to life, so visitors can experience the true character of the house, how Gray intended it.

‘Eileen Gray was particular and precise in her materials, textures and colours in everything, hence our search for precision in our reconstructions. Her genius is in these details, and we seek to reproduce them precisely,’ says Michael Likierman, director at Cap Moderne, the non-profit association set up in 2014 to preserve the villa for the public.

Eileen Gray interiors

Interiors in one of the bedrooms at E-1027. Photography: Manuel Bougot

E-1027 was rescued from dilapidation by the Cap Moderne association, set up by the Conservatoire du Littoral. Prior to 2014, and after Gray moved out in 1932, the house had experienced a tumultuous time falling into disrepair from neglect, used for target practice by German soldiers during the Second World War, and the site of a murder in the 1990s.

Thanks to the Cap Moderne, the Conservatoire du Littoral and the Friends of E-1027 group, the villa opened to the public in 2015 and since then visitor numbers have been on a steady and steep incline since the opening in 2015. They’re projected to double by the end of this year’s season which runs from May to October.

L’etoile de Mer

L’Étoile de Mer. Photography: Manuel Bougot

This month, creatives across the world are rallying together to help raise money towards the continuing restoration and improved facilities at E-1027. Designer Faye Toogood has joined the campaign in support, referencing Gray as an important inspiration to her: ‘As a female designer, I’ve long been inspired by her legacy as a rare female pioneer in the world of design. E-1027 is a radical modernist masterpiece and having suffered disrepair and near dereliction; this pertinent crowdfunding initiative will ensure its protection and is therefore crucial,’ she says.

Photographer François Halard has created some exclusive images of E-1027 and other rewards have been offered for those who contribute towards the campaign. Join Halard and Toogood to support the campaign before it ends on Saturday 10 November 2018. §

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